“Supplies are tight because of all the weather that happened three months ago. The hurricanes that kept hitting Florida and all the rain—it’s all taking effect right now,” says Don Turner of Boiling Springs, SC-based Orlando Tomato Inc. “It was a terrible market last year and this year you can’t get any. It’s gotten to the point where my customers are replacing tomatoes on their shelves with something else right now.”
Demand is still there which of course has boosted pricing significantly. “But there’s a tipping point where they can’t afford to put them on the shelf because the consumer won’t pay it,” says Turner.
Meanwhile competition continues to come in from Mexico and soon from hot house growers in Canada. “Canada has a great concept but because they can, they grow more and send it here when Canada gets saturated. That’s what’s going on with Mexico too,” says Turner. “There’s also a big difference in floor pricing—and Canada needs a floor price too. There needs to be better floor pricing that rivals us because when we can’t grow and ship tomatoes here for the same price Mexico can pick them eight hours south of the border and ship them to the East Coast for less than we can, that’s a problem.”
That said, Turner sees some relief after the start of 2018. “At about the first of the year, the new plantings that weren’t affected or could get replanted will come back,” he says. “Then tomatoes will get back to normal.”
For more information:
Orlando Tomato Farms